In Sunday School this week we were continuing our study of Genesis. We have made it to the story of Joseph. There was a part of the discussion that caught my attention this week. It was when Joseph’s brothers took his coat of many colors to his father with animal blood on it. It says that Jacob tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. He mourned for his son for many days. His family tries to comfort him and he says, “No. In mourning I will go down to the grave to my son.” He wept.
You get the idea here that Jacob was upset. Maybe more than would be expected…I don’t know. I think if my son was killed I would mourn like this. However, this scripture points out that he was basically inconsolable. That got me to thinking…
I was wondering if Jacob wasn’t grieving more than his son. You see Joseph was a son of promise. He was Jacob’s first son by Rachel. He was favored by Jacob but also promised a destiny by God. Jacob knew this, he planned for it. When Joseph was apparently dead, Jacob not only mourned his son but also the promise. We do not know for sure, but it is my bet that he mourned his failure to protect this promised one. Yet, because we get the benefit of reading the end of the story, we know that Joseph does fulfill his destiny. God still brings it to pass, though in a way different way than we would imagine.
There is such application for our lives today in this story. Many of us have God-breathed dreams. It could be a calling or a career or something God showed us about our children. We watch the dream grow under our care. We nurture and protect just as Jacob did Joseph. It is in our desire to be faithful to the dream that sometimes causes us to elevate it too highly. It becomes our obsession. When it dies, we grieve like Jacob because we know the promise and we feel that somehow we failed God. Our dream is gone…or so it seems.
How many of us have wayward children that have gone astray. We feel that our hearts have been ripped out when they go their own way. Or you may have a call to missions or ministry that has never come to pass. It is when the dream dies that we feel our talents are wasted or maybe we never heard God to begin with. It goes back to that voice that says to us “You are not enough; there is more you could have done, more you SHOULD have done. You have failed.” But God…there is that phrase I love…but God says he has not finished his work. He does not fail. He always finishes what he starts. He did it with Joseph in unexpected ways…ways that rooted out his pride and arrogance. If he had stayed in his own home it is probable that Jacob would have continued to feed his pride, with good intentions of course, but not it a way that would bring about the purposes of God. The humility that Joseph learned is the reason he became such a great leader. He was softened to the point he could not only forgive his brothers but save them as well. In our lives we need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is for us. He guides us through both good and bad times for our benefit. His plans WILL be fulfilled despite our failings…in fact he uses our failings to bring them about. How cool is that? He is an awesome God.